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Posts with tag research

The Classifieds: Buttering up the Panera Bread WoW Man

The Classifieds brings you weekly updates on guild recruiting, rankings, splits and merges, progression and more. Have guild news or a Random Act of Uberness to share? E-mail TheClassifieds@wow.com.

Remember back during the holidays, when we had a nice cozy Breakfast Topic chat about the fellow who's been spotted schlepping his entire iMac to the local Panera Bread to play WoW? Sharp-eyed reader Paul discovered a followup article at Gizmodo, featuring five questions with the Panera Bread WoW Man. It's no headline news, but it's an interesting peek into how a fellow WoW player gets his fix.

Let's open up The Classifieds ...

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Filed under: Guilds, The Classifieds

The Classifieds: WoW player/MMA fighter on the mend


The Classifieds brings you weekly updates on guild recruiting, rankings, splits and merges, progression and more. Have guild news or a Random Act of Uberness to share? E-mail The Classifieds.

In news from the WoW community, guildmates of MMA grappler Haydn Clasby, aka Croc of <Defiant Hearts>, US Bloodscalp-H, are rallying in support after he suffered a broken neck in what was called a freak accident during a match in New Zealand last month. Friends and fans are publicizing a Recovery Fund to help Croc out with the medical costs of the devastating accident.

Our friend Jens "Little Evil" Pulver, also an MMA fighter and inveterate WoW player (and seen in yesterday's 15 Minutes of Fame), offered these words of support for Croc: "My heart and thoughts go out to you, brother. Make sure you keep your spirits up and tackle this with the same grit and guts you used to get in there in the first place. Take the time to heal and get well soon. Chin down, hands up and always come out fighting; don't let this stop you. I wish you all the best."

Best wishes, Croc, for your continued recovery!

Let's open up The Classifieds ...

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Filed under: The Classifieds

The Classifieds: News briefs on guilds and players

The Classifieds brings you weekly updates on guild recruiting, rankings, splits and merges, progression and more. Have guild news or a Random Act of Uberness to share? E-mail The Classifieds.

Welcome to our first installment of The Classifieds, an evolution of our former Guildwatch feature. As more and more players move into endgame raiding, we thought it fitting that our guild news should evolve, too. The Classifieds gives you more of the news you can use: who's progressing, who's marking milestones, who's recruiting. But it's not only about guilds. Because we're all down there in the trenches of Dungeon Finder groups at every opportunity, The Classifieds lets you send a shout-out to that player who made your last PUG a thing of real beauty (whether through pure technical finesse or a winning attitude). And if you're curious about how WoW intersects with the world at large, we'll be passing along links to academic research studies seeking participants, as well.

Editor's Note: One thing you might notice missing in Guildwatch's new incarnation is the "Drama" section. In the interest of fostering community growth and positive interaction, we're checking the drama and negativity at the door.

Let's open the Classifieds!

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Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Guilds, Features, Raiding, Bosses, Achievements

How we learn the jargon

We get a lot of requests here on the site from researchers trying to study you World of Warcraft players. Everybody with a research grant, apparently, wants to study you -- your psychology, your interaction, and the relationship you have with your avatar. We get so many requests, actually, that we usually have to pass -- we're not smart enough to choose which ones are legit and which ones aren't, and if we posted them all, we'd do nothing but post requests for survey answers all day. But I like the way alckly has done her research over on WoW Ladies LJ: she posted a question about WoW jargon, and you can see everyone's answers right away.

We definitely have lots of jargon to go around, from LFG to twinks to PuGs and a lot more. But what's most interesting about all of these answers, to me, is the way it spreads. There's a little bit of Googling and research going on, but really it's a very social thing -- you see "wtb" in the trade channel, and then you ask someone you know what it means (rather than looking it up somewhere else). Thus, definitions of the terms are very organic: "pst" could mean "pssst, here's a whisper" or "please send tell," and yet because they both mean the same thing, both meanings propagate. Likewise, usage tends to be a very social thing -- the person who types "LFG strat need heals" won't type "would u like 2 go to strat?"

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

Scientists study how the brain thinks about virtual avatars

This is fascinating stuff to think about over the weekend -- New Scientist has an article (sent to us by quite a few readers -- thanks!) about how we perceive our virtual selves in video games like World of Warcraft. A group of scientists at Dartmouth University hooked a few WoW players up to an MRI recently, and they found that when asked to describe themselves and their virtual avatars, the same areas of the brain activated -- areas normally suited to "self-reflection and judgement." In other words, you think about your avatar the same way you think about yourself. They found nearly no difference in the way the brain activated when subjects considered themselves and their avatars.

But when you make the split between virtual and real worlds (including your friends in both), the brain's center for imagination tends to light up whenever you consider the virtual world. You've got the normal parts of your brain working when thinking about yourself or others, but when you add in the virtual component, the imagination center lights up as well.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

Study: Playing in a guild actually lowers stress


A new study done by researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology says that spending time online playing World of Warcraft with others can actually be good for your mental wellbeing -- within moderation of course. Researcher Huon Longman studied WoW players who played alongside guildies in game, and found that players often shared their real-life concerns with their virtual associates, which resulted in lowered levels of "anxiety, depression, and stress." In short, it seems that when you build relationships and share emotions even with people online, it can help you deal with problems in real life as well. That follows what we talked about earlier this week with Dr. Hilarie Cash -- games like WoW can definitely complement real-life relationships and actually help you relax.

But only when used in moderation -- Longman also found that 10% of the sample he studied played considerably more World of Warcraft than normal, and that those players not only didn't experience a bigger benefit to their wellbeing, but actually experienced more "negative psychological symptoms." A good balance of virtual and real life can have a lot of benefits, but falling too much into virtual life can actually cause more problems psychologically, according to this researcher's work. Obviously, this is one study of many about how playing these games can affect how we think, but the results are definitely reflected in experience: in-game relationships, used in moderation, can definitely help you deal with the real world in a healthier way.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Guilds, Blizzard, Raiding

Conclusions from the WoW.com faction transfer survey


Last week I posted a poll to try and figure out some of the numbers behind the newly implemented faction transfers, and now that we've got quite a few votes in there, it's probably a time to look at what we got and see if we can make any sense of it. The most conclusive data there is the answer above: about 18.6% of our reader polled said that yes, they had made a faction transfer already. That sounds high to me -- maybe it's because WoW.com readers know about the faction transfer service that more of them may have taken advantage of it. But if it's true that 19% of players did take advantage of the transfer service, then 570,000 of the around 3 million US players have switched factions, making Blizzard $17.1 million in gross revenue alone, just in the last week since it's opened.

The other questions were a little hairier -- I tried to ask people not to answer if they didn't fit the criteria for each question, and there's no way to tell for sure that's what happened. Also, lots of people wanted to see the answers without voting, and unfortunately, our voting system doesn't allow a clear way to do that (I have since checked with our tech guys, who say that the solution we came up with, voting without choosing an answer, did not affect the poll). But after the break, we can try to suss some conclusions out of the data anyway.

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Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Polls, Realm Status, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Cataclysm

Researchers study WoW to see how gangs form and fade

We've seen WoW used for a lot of research, from epidemics to anthropological fieldwork, but this is probably one of the craziest and one of the most helpful (assuming it works) ways to use it. Psychologists at the University of Miami and the University of California, Irvine have been studying how guilds and groups form in World of Warcraft in the hopes that it'll help them figure out how gangs form in real life. It sounds like a wild idea, but following guilds and groups in World of Warcraft is much easier than trying to study spontaneous guilds in the real world, because you've got immediate access to data: when people joined and left and why. And the psychologists say putting data together like this will help, because it'll help answer questions about, for example, what happens when you decide to separate a group of people -- do they form their own groups again or do they stay separated?

They say there are other connections as well: though killing dragons is far less heinous than killing innocent bystanders, Warcraft guilds form, grow, stick together, and fall apart just like gangs and even other groups all over the world do. No matter what kind of group it is, the researchers say that "group ecology" is the same everywhere, so studying the way we work in endgame raids can lead to ideas about what we're doing elsewhere. Very interesting.

Unfortunately, they're full on potential but still pretty short on conclusions yet (listen, guys, all you have to do to break up gangs is ensure there's not enough loot to go around), but once again, Azeroth seems like a fertile ground for directly studying just how we players interact as humans.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, News items, Raiding, Bosses

NPD: World of Warcraft has sold 8.6 million boxes at retail

Gamasutra has received an interesting stat from the good folks at NPD: after hearing that The Sims 3 sold over 800,000 copies in its first month, they were curious to see what kind of unit sales our own World of Warcraft has experienced. And the numbers are pretty big: among the original game and all of the expansion packs since the vanilla release over four years ago, NPD says 8.6 million boxes of WoW have been sold in the US. That's a little misleading if you're comparing it to actual subscription numbers: remember that this is over three different releases (so the actual number of all-time players, not current players, is probably 1/3 of that), and it includes different collectors' editions of each of the three game editions. So there are nowhere near 8.6 million US players of WoW -- that's just how many times players have come through the retail line with the various releases.

What that is, however, is a lot of money. Gamasutra estimates that at an average of $30 for each unit sold (the vanilla game currently retails at $20, but the expansions all sell at $40, and of course the original game was more expensive once upon a time), that's $258 million in income for Blizzard. In short, Blizzard's making a mint at the retail counter, even before they sign anyone up for subscriptions.

Then again, if you look at their own costs, those aren't insubstantial, either -- Activision's Bobby Kotick claimed that anyone starting up an MMO to compete with WoW would have to throw at least half a billion dollars into the mix just to get started, so we can presume Blizzard has spent at least $500 million on their staff, development, and hardware. So it's not like they're taking it all to the bank, though we can at least presume they're sitting firmly in the black.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Using WoW for learning in schools

We've heard about WoW in schools before, but usually it's at schools of higher learning, where they're studying social networks or how society evolves. But a group in North Carolina is planning to put WoW in schools in a different way: by using situations in World of Warcraft to develop literacy, mathematics, and other competencies. WoWinSchools has math lessons and other tests based around WoW terms and knowledge: one example question asks "Which types of heals produce a greater number of recovered hit points during an encounter?" Another wants to know "Which buff (a spell that enhances a character's abilities) is more effective for your character, Blessing of Kings or Blessing of Might?" The idea is to use situations that the kids are familiar with in World of Warcraft (raiding, for example), and apply higher level thinking to those situations.

There are even creative writing suggestions dedicated to the game, from writing an RP story about a character in Azeroth, to writing a song parody (that one should be taught by Professor Turpster) or designing a quest chain. And lest you think they're just joking around, there's a whole slew of research behind the idea, too, and it definitely makes sense: kids who play World of Warcraft are much more likely to be interested in problems about DPS and Healing rather than Susie and Bobby's apples that we added and subtracted back when we were kids in school.

It seems like the only place this is implemented is in one afterschool program -- while there are lots of good ideas here, it's not necessarily being used in many classrooms yet (and my guess is that not every student in schools would vibe with a World of Warcraft-based curriculum, either). But it is a plan in development, and anything that better helps teachers understand what their students are interested in is probably worthwhile.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Talents, Buffs

This is your brain on PvP

Ars Technica has news of a new study that isn't directly World of Warcraft-related, but that does have some pretty obvious applications in Azeroth. By studying the way we play when we believe we're competing against a human and a computer opponent (PvP vs. PvE, in WoW terms), scientists have determined that different parts of the brain are more active when we think we're playing against a human opponent. They call this extra activity "mind-reading," but it's not that supernatural: when we think we're playing a human, we try to put ourselves in their place, and think what they're thinking.

It gets deeper: they even throw gender into the mix, and discovered that male brains seem to be working harder to do this kind of "mind-reading" of the other side. Their conclusion says that that's because women are naturally more empathetic, and thus don't have to work as hard to figure out what another person is thinking. That seems a little general -- it could also mean that the males care more about competition, and thus are working harder to "mind-read," or it could even just be a wrinkle of the way this data was gathered. More research is probably needed on that one -- if women are so great at figuring out their opponents, why aren't we seeing all-female teams winning Arena tournaments?

It would be interesting to know, too, whether there's increased activity in other areas, say pattern recognition or cause-effect centers of the brain, when we're playing against opponents that we know are computers. But this does tell us that there are definitely different skillsets at work when playing PvP or PvE, and why some people might very clearly enjoy one over the other.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, PvP, Raiding, Arena

15 Minutes of Fame: Anthropologist digs into WoW

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

While we've written before about academics who are researching WoW from within, we're not sure that we've seen anyone whose primary fieldwork is the PvE raiding experience. Meet Alex Golub, Ph.D., an anthropology professor at the University of Hawaii. Golub plays a Resto Shaman in a Wrath-era raiding guild who's researching what he calls the culture of raiding -- "why people do something as crazy as run 25-mans four days a week."

"There is a lot of research on WoW, actually, but most of is based either on crunching Armory data to produce statistical analysis of game play, or it is more 'cultural studies' where people play the game a little and then write something beautiful about it," he explains to 15 Minutes of Fame. "My unique angle is that I am doing anthropological fieldwork in WoW, living and playing with a raiding guild and putting in 20+ hours a week keeping them healed and decursed."

The main themes of Golub's research (ahem): "American cultures of self-control, efficiency, masculinity and success amongst players of WoW." We asked him to boil that down for us. "I study how guys behave badly in Vent, and how/why people become emo and/or talk about why other people are emo," he explains. "I'm interested in how you get a group of 25 people to keep calm and collected as they try to do something really emotionally important to them, which requires relying on other people when its difficult to see them face to face."

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Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Inscription gets researching recipes in build 8970

In the small patch that was applied to the Beta servers last night, there were a few Inscription tweaks. Of course there were some minor tweaks to various class glyphs, but the most interesting change came in the form of 2 new recipes: Minor Inscription Research and Northrend Inscription Research.

The former creates items that may teach you a new minor glyph, while the latter creates items that may teach you a new major glyph. Minor Inscription Research looks to be a very cheap spell, using the basic Moonglow Ink, while Northrend Inscription Research is a little more expensive, requiring Ink of the Sea and Snowfall Ink, both of which are created with pigments made from milling Northrend herbs. Both abilities also have a 20 hour cooldown, so no spamming them to collect all the glyphs even if you do lay in a massive stockpile of ink and parchment.

It's sort of like the old spell research for casters from Everquest combined with the alchemy discovery system. Of course, you don't have to gather rare drops like with research, and in theory, you won't have to make hundreds of items hoping for a discovery like discovery.

The type and caliber of the glyphs to be discovered this way is still unknown. If they turn out to be some of the better or more desirable recipes, though, it should certainly give Inscriptionists a good cash flow, as not everyone will know the glyph in question. The 20 hour cooldown and the uncommon pigments needed for the Northrend recipe should add to this is well. It's an intriguing new mechanic for the class, and we'll be interested to see how well it fares. As long as the discovery rate of unique glyphs is relatively high, it should do well enough.

Filed under: Herbalism, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Expansions, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King, Inscription

New report: Gamers are not lonely losers

Gamers seem to get a lot of bad press. From controversial episodes in the early days of Dungeons and Dragons to WoW addictions that are more shameful than online porn. Anyone who doesn't know us might actually believe that we're 10 million basement-dwelling social troglodytes. The American Medical Association is even considering the addition of video game addictions to their big book of mental problems (also known as the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

A new study by Victoria University found just the opposite. They found that about 15% of their 621 participants qualified as problem gamers, that is they spent more than 50 hours a week playing games. Even among that 15 percent, only one percent showed signs of poor social skills. While there are some who have a major problem gaming habit most of us are normal people who unwind with a video game.

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Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, News items

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